Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Due to either infection or disease activity, elevated levels of inflammatory markers and up-regulation of the autoimmune process can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis in SLE patients. Periodontal diseases are among the most prevalent chronic infections in humans and are characterized by pathogen-induced oral inflammatory disease affecting the supporting tissues of teeth. Several cytokines capable of inducing systemic effects are produced during the course of this infection. The presence of these cytokines can be verified by changes in the levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). Periodontal disease is a well-known risk factor for atherosclerosis. The potential for beneficial prevention of CVD events through the use of periodontal treatment has been previously recommended. This review reinforces the hypothesis that periodontal infection could be a risk factor for CVD in patients diagnosed with SLE, and suggests that by reducing the progression of this oral infection, levels of inflammatory markers common to both diseases (SLE and periodontal disease) would likely decrease.
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